Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 3/28/1994
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Corey Allen
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Wesley Crusher returns to the Enterprise during a break from Starfleet Academy while the Enterprise prepares to negotiate the details of moving a Federation colony off a planet that, as a result of a recently signed treaty changing the Federation/Cardassian border, will soon reside inside Cardassian space. It's a two-pronged storyline that ultimately comes together, albeit somewhat clumsily.
After a stretch of episodes that seemed like the series going haywire with every kitchen-sink idea it could think of (including some spectacularly bad ones), "Journey's End" is the first installment that feels like TNG entering the final leg of the series, making a point to wrap up some character threads — in this case, the story of young Wesley. That it must turn Wesley into a colossal douche in the process (by TNG standards) is something I'm torn over: On the one hand, it's a change of pace (although "The First Duty," which already dismantled his boy-wonder image, was a much better example of that), but on the other hand it's not exactly a worthwhile change of pace, and it feels awfully ham-handed. Yeah, Wesley is struggling with doubts over who he is and where he's going, but having him lash out just makes him seem childish.
This character thread is set against the backdrop of a Federation colony — made up of American Indians who have preserved a centuries-old culture on this far-away world — being told they are being forced off their land because of political machinations larger than themselves. While the notion of "Space Indians" feels like something that would've been fodder for TOS, the writers bring a decidedly TNG sensibility to it, with Picard wistfully noting the disturbing parallels between this assignment and what happened to Native Americans hundreds of years ago. (Less effective is the contrived guilt surrounding the claim that one of Picard's ancestors was a man who participated in a massacre of Indians, which seems superfluous while indulging the show's spiritual mumbo-jumbo as somehow able to magically provide facts that most people would need books for.)
Meanwhile, the situation created by the treaty here is an interesting footnote because it would soon be the impetus for the Maquis, which would be crucial plot elements for both DS9 and Voyager. Gul Evek (Ricard Poe), the Cardassian who is the thorn in everyone's side here (and at times seems like he wants to be gasoline on a fire), makes for a strong, if sometimes excessively forced, antagonistic presence. He could've been a solid recurring character on DS9 (and indeed he was in a handful of episodes) if the show didn't already have the terrific Dukat.
The plot threads come together as Wesley is befriended by an Indian named Lakanta (Tom Jackson) and encouraged to explore his spiritual side in a ritual that I wish I cared more about, but which feels kind of perfunctory. (Wesley sees his father in this vision, which I guess technically means this episode qualifies in the season's never-ending Family Tree Theater sweepstakes.) It turns out this Indian is actually the mysterious Traveler (Eric Menyuk, last seen in fourth season's "Remember Me"), who is trying to lead Wesley to his destiny as an exceptionally rare human with the ability to transcend space and time.
While it has its moments, "Journey's End" doesn't ever jell. The political solution is too easily solved, such that Picard is able to sidestep the distasteful actions we had been told the whole episode would be unavoidable. As for the final chapter in Wesley's story, I guess it's appropriate for this character — which is part of the problem. When a character's arc is to be constantly and annoyingly exceptional (save the aforementioned "First Duty"), seeing the revelation here that he's actually superhumanly exceptional is not really getting to the crux of the guy. A lot of people have problems and wonder who they are and where they're going. Not a lot of them pull themselves outside of the space-time continuum to find the answer. I guess that's why they call it Star Trek.
Previous episode: Genesis
Next episode: Firstborn
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94 comments on this post
Sun, Mar 10, 2013, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Also, what's the deal with Wesley leaving Starfleet, and then 8 years later being back in uniform in Star Trek: Nemesis? There's even that deleted scene with him talking about how he's serving on the USS Titan with Captain Riker. One wonders if there's some semi-canonical story behind that.
Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
More precisely, the Maquis would be crucial to Voyager, and DS9 got saddled with the set-up as much as TNG did here. DS9 had to live with the Maquis as a plot element, though, unlike TNG (and, it turns out, Voyager).
Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Anyway, agree about the Wesley stuff and the episode's general quality. It's particularly frustrating to reveal that all the "Native Americans...in space!" set up with Wesley and Lakanta was all fake and a trick to set up the Traveler. One of the two Native American characters of interest in the episode is the Traveler in disguise.
Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
The Native Americans story, though, was top-notch, and perfectly set the stage for the Maquis arc that was to come. I'd give this a 7/10.
Wed, Mar 13, 2013, 7:11am (UTC -5)
But I feel late TNG and DS9 to a huge extent, gave passing respect to religion in all its forms in a very post-modern "all religions are sort the same thing" kind of way. Gene respected cultures sure, but he defininetly looked at religion as a failing, not just another facet of culture as alot of modern liberals do.
Oh, and btw, this episode is terrible, I have only seen it once, and never plan on seeing it again. I hate Ro, I hate the Maquis, and I hate indians in space.
Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Wesley was TNG's worst character, but mostly because he was just laughable in season one. In seasons two and three (and early in the fourth season, before he left) he was less cloying and had grown up some. I blame his bad season one on the writing staff trying to muscle a kid into the cast.
Wesley in later episodes -- "The First Duty" and even "The Game" -- was a much better character. He had grown up and he could do stuff other than always outsmarting the adults.
Then, this episode came around and tried something completely different. Wesley doesn't work as a bratty asshole and the scene with Geordi is particularly bad. Instead of being sullen, they could have made him more lost, which would have worked better.
Oh, and then having Wesley pop up in 'Nemesis' as a member of Starfleet? Weak sauce.
Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 16, 2013, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
And you make another great point that I have also noticed about the parallel between this ep and insurrection. Picard won't protect a group due to a cardassian treaty, but an element that could CURE DEATH, and he protects the group hoarding it! What an F-face. That I think doesn't reflect much on this episode, but it shows how absurd Insurrection is.
Sat, Mar 16, 2013, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
I'm with Nick P., I never had any sympathy for the Maquis even when this whole multi-series TNG-DS9-VOY arc was first run on television. The colonists were warned decades in advance that the territory was in dispute, but they're willing to plunge the civilizations into war just so they don't have to move...f*** them.
Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:10am (UTC -5)
I wonder how the Traveller stuff would be seen if it were written today. Certain subjects have become more touchy in society, and I'm not sure in the modern day how they'd take "older guy who has always had a bit of a shine for this young boy stalks him and then takes him on a magical adventure"
Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:41am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
"But the Native American story was too heavy handed -- the flute music, in particular, has always bugged me -- and the Wesley stuff doesn't make sense."
Yes, thank you! That "whistly" music, as I call it, is so annoying -- it takes you right out of the story with its in-your-face, unnecessary "We're in Indian mode now" schtick. They even did it briefly in "Endame" when Old Janeway is talking to Chakotay's headstone.
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
I can't stand Picard's pandering in this episode. The Dorvan colonists and the Maquis that followed later are so ideologically bankrupt that is obnoxious and embarrassing how often they were drudged up in DS9 and VOY to try to conjure some moral ambiguity, which always falls flat.
Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 2:43am (UTC -5)
The Native American material probably would have worked better if they had just made up a new people that was clearly analogous to the Native American situation, and then come up with a convincing in-universe moral crisis. The problem is that there is nothing analogous about the situation presented in this episode, with the single village of Native Americans who moved to Dorvan V 20 years ago because the mountains spoke to them, and the Native Americans forced off land by conquering nations. To repeat: nothing analogous -- and the silliness of the comparison is almost insulting to the real historical atrocities the episode halfheartedly namechecks. The integrity of the Star Trek universe is compromised in order to try to push through this moral crisis. And I don't mind a little compromise to get a story across, but this bends to the point of breaking.
The attempt to draw Picard into this by establishing that Picard had an ancestor who participated in a brutal attack 700 years before the episode takes place is really eye-rolling. I guess we're supposed to see it as significant that this guy has the Picard name. But really, Picard is a descendant of HOW MANY people who were alive during the 17th century? A probably-unreliable genaeology article I just looked up suggests that there is usually no repetition in ancestors within the last ten generations (but after ten generations, there's a lot of repetition in ancestors, so we can't just do the 2^n ancestors for n generations calculation), which makes about a thousand ancestors from ten generations ago, let alone the 25-30 generations ago. Picard rightly dismisses the idea that he has some responsibility for Javier Picard's actions, but then seems to take it seriously, and the script seems to expect us to at least believe in it a bit.
You know, I know that people objected to Picard's hardline anti-religious stance in "Who Watches the Watchers," but I would take that, and worse, any day over the way Picard panders in this episode. He continues to repeat how much he respects these Native Americans' beliefs, and this would be less jarring if it weren't basically the first time we have seen human spiritual beliefs in practice in all of TNG. Data mentioned the Festival of Lights in "Data's Day," but a) we didn't see it, and more importantly b) this wasn't used as a reason to refuse to relocate to another settlement to avoid another war where millions of people die. The *only* reason the episode gives for why the Dorvan V colonists are so attached to this planet they have lived on for twenty years is their religious beliefs, and so the prioritization of religious beliefs is higher in this episode than any time before. This goes mostly uncommented upon, frustratingly.
Similarly, Wesley seems to take the policy that I guess we are supposed to take, which is that relocating these people is wrong. But come on. This is a post-scarcity society. They settled on a planet in dispute, possibly even *during* a war (I'm never quite clear on what the timeline of the Cardassian war is).
The episode's pandering is really hard to stomach after a while -- the flute, as others have mentioned above. And the fact that, in an effort to avoid any possible offense, they don't identify this tribe. They are some kind of generic "Native American Indians," who are never identified as an actual people but as some kind of halfhearted amalgam of real life tribes. The whole thing feels very condescending.
Final point about the Native Americans: we spend time in which "Lakanta" shows Wesley the value of the vision quest, from this non-specific unreal Native American tribe. And then just when this wise man has shown Wesley, and us, the value of this unnamed tribe's religion -- it turns out he's actually the Traveler! So, the episode's hamfisted demonstration of the value of this tribe's religion turns out to be a fake-out, because it was the Traveler all along. Wesley says at the end that the Traveler says that he can learn a lot from "these people," as a way of reestablishing the importance of the Native Americans in this story. But Wesley has not actually interacted with them -- or hasn't, outside that one scene where he warned the villagers of Worf's attempt to start evacuations.
For what it's worth, I do like the solution at the end -- that if the Dorvan V colonists really, really want to stay where they are, they can stay there and be under Cardassian jurisdiction. That's fairly classic compromise. The lead up to it, though, feels very warmed over from the brinksmanship material of earlier seasons; compare the Picard/Evek scene here to the material in "The Enemy" or "The Wounded," and, well, there's no comparison.
@Patrick, great point about "The Ensigns of Command." That really shows up the problem at the core of this episode.
OK, so, uh, Wesley is in this episode, right? :) The episode manages to make me angry at everyone over Wesley's behaviour here. Wesley's obnoxious behaviour to Geordi is groan-inducing. But somehow, it is even more annoying that Wesley's critical attitude toward Geordi's [tech tech tech] spreads through the ship, so that Picard has heard about what a little punk Wesley was to Geordi.
One could say that it's implied that Wesley's Bad Attitude is related to the Nova Squadron incident -- especially since "Lakanta" says that he saw Wesley in a vision two years ago, and that's what happened two years ago. (Or not, since presumably he was lying?) However, despite Wesley having only three pips marking him out as a third year cadet, as he should be given that he was held back a year, everyone still refers to him as a fourth-year cadet, and Wesley describes his fundamental problem as that he got depressed and angry as graduation approached. So there is no real effort in the episode to link Wesley's anger here to an incident we've actually seen.
Wesley's stopping the relocation of the Native Americans, and then the scene of Picard chewing him out, is interesting, though not really successful. I've mentioned the reasons I disagree that it's wrong to relocate these people. But if we take as read that it is wrong, and that Picard is only going along with it because of some abstract greater good thing, then the scene is a curious inversion of "The First Duty." Picard told Wesley there that the first duty of a Starfleet officer is to the truth -- and that this was above all considerations, including a false sense of loyalty. Picard revealed in "The Pegasus" that the *reason* he hired Riker was because he respected someone who defied orders when he believed it was the right thing to do. So Picard's transformation into an authoritarian figurehead basically betrays the values he wanted to instill in Wesley. Again, I don't really buy it, because I don't buy the premise of the episode -- but it is, I guess, an interesting choice.
Now, that Wesley did want to be in Starfleet in part to please his father, and then his surrogate father in Picard, is pretty well-established, and so I don't mind that aspect of things so much. It's just frustrating, because "The First Duty" dealt with Wesley's succumbing to the pressure to be exceptional *so much* better than this episode did, by showing how that pressure led to Wesley making big mistakes rather than just showing him be uncharacteristically a jerk and then having him decide that he stands morally with the Dorvan V colonists because the Traveler gets him to be sympathetic to them while in disguise.
So, right after Wesley resigns, we find out he HAS THE POWER TO STOP TIME! WITH HIS MIND! You know, at least in "Remember Me" and the like, Wesley *actually had a console with him*. That he has the superpower to stop time removes any real conflict from his story, because obviously he doesn't have to be in Starfleet when he has *superpowers*. It's not just a matter of "Starfleet's good for some people, but not for me"; it is now "Starfleet was pretty cool, but I AM BASICALLY A GOD, so." And a God who still is going to study what the Native Americans have to say, even though I didn't see any of them with the ability to stop time with their mind.
Other things that annoyed me: the Traveler telling Wesley, "Have faith that the others can solve this problem on their own!" would be great advice if Wesley were not *directly involved in creating this situation*, by telling the colonists that Worf et al. were planning to beam them out. If Wesley was correct to interfere then, he should try to interfere again now, right? And if he was wrong to interfere then (more likely), he has some responsibility to try to fix it. But apparently Wesley's time-freezing ability suddenly changes his whole relationship to the world. There is precedent for this, I guess -- Picard telling Riker not to use his Q powers at all in "Hide and Q," e.g. -- but Picard didn't tell Riker not to use his powers to fix situations he had created.
And you know, the sad thing is, I LIKE WESLEY. Not all the time, certainly, but I like "Coming of Age" and the subplot in "Pen Pals" and the shuttlecraft scenes in "Samaritan Snare" and "Evolution" and the season four material ("Family," "Remember Me," and much of "Final Mission") and aspects of "The Game," and I love "The First Duty." He has been poorly served by the show, but still. This final episode mostly removes Wesley's entire personality -- his good-natured attitude, his perfectionism, his problem-solving -- and makes him spend most of his final hour interacting with guest characters. The goodbye scene with Beverly and Picard feels very perfunctory and half-hearted, even though this is the last we see of him in the series.
The episode is not wholly without merit. As I said, I like the compromise reached at the end; and I like some of the ideas of the Wesley story. I do think that it makes sense for Wesley to find a destiny outside Starfleet, and for him to realize that he has been chasing a ghost (his father, I mean, not the kind of ghost his mother was dealing with) his whole life, in addition to Picard's expectations, which he even said in "Final Mission" were the reason he did all this. That Wesley leaves Starfleet is a reasonable end to the character. The way it happened was not. I guess 1.5 stars.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
Nice nod to the Indians. I find it humorous how the Trek universe deals with their spirituality by saying 'they're aware of many things'; implying that their spirituality is based in science rather than the metaphysical or supernatural.
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
Same issue I've had with Insurrection.
Also selfish, selfish people. But of course they are "noble savages". Ugh again.
Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
I'd love to see a DS9 reference to how the Cardassians wiped out Anthwar's village a week after the Enterprise left, or sent every last Indian into a labour camp amid vacuous protests that the Cardassians' souls would be stained.
Frankly, given the way the Maquis' origins and subsequent infractions are portrayed on TNG and DS9, I'm not surprised the Voyager writers didn't do much with them. What a colossal collection of idiots.
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
His ultimate decision seems drastic and rushed, with only brief minutes of material to back it up. And frankly, it just doesn't feel right.
I think that's a pan flute we're hearing - very cliched. Unfortunately, the Native American material is mostly corny.
Definitely a mixed bag.
Sat, Sep 6, 2014, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
Sorry for the aside, but as a strong classical liberal myself, I hate to see it misconstrued. The corruption of classical liberal ideals has been occurring since the French Revolution, and has almost nothing to do with modern liberalism or leftism.
Also, while The First Duty should have been brought up, I don't think it makes sense to have it be a significant reason for Wesley's current whinyness. The point of this episode was to call back to WNOHGB, which stated that Wesley had a unique gift equivalent to Mozart's ability in music. As such, then Wesley's disillusionment with Starfleet had to stem from the fact that he's destined for something bigger, not just because of other problems. More importantly, to have his whinyness be due to First Duty would cheapen the character, especially after Lower Decks. Sito Jaxa took it on the chin, redoubled her efforts, and worked hard in adverse conditions to end up getting through the hostile environment and getting posted to the Enterprise. If she could do it, why not Wesley? So clearly, we had to give him some other reason to be such a jerk.
And while I know this episode is seen as being the setup for the Maquis, is it really? After all, these folks are now independent. They have no reason to attack the Federation. And the Federation explicitly has no obligation to aid them. Evek seemed to be perfectly ok with this. So this colony couldn't have caused the Maquis. Unless all the other colonists saw this and suddenly declared their own independence... But that's somewhat silly. These Indians had a deep spiritual reason for staying. We were told that these areas were in dispute for over 20 years, yet all these different colonists stayed? We saw in Ensigns of Command that most people's ties to the land evaporate pretty quickly when the phasers start firing. Really, like others said, the whole Maquis thing doesn't make too much sense.
Not to mention that apparently both sides had some planets colonized in the others' territories. One would think they'd be willing to swap a few planets like that? Seriously, how important are borders when all stars are 4 light years away from each other?
And with all that, I haven't even talked much about the episode itself... Which is also a mess. Wesley's mood swings were crazy, and as others have mentioned the scene in Engineering was particularly awful. And while he is feeling depressed and cynical and all that, he decides to take up the Indians' cause and starting a riot? Is that really in character? Oh, and then he can stop time because, well, reasons. And, despite the fact that he spent the first 20 years of his life as a human, caring deeply about people, and spent several years working alongside the Enterprise folks... and then he just walks away from a phase battle because now he's superior to mere mortals. For an episode that was designed to give Wesley his grand sendoff, it didn't really feel like a real person.
And yes, the Indian plot was pretty awful too. Picard's handwringing was a bit much; we already saw Data dealing with a similar situation in Ensigns of Command and there was no anguish involved. I don't see this as the show not supporting its anti-religion bias, but rather not supporting its anti-racism bias. After beating us over the head in TOS about how unified the human race is, we now have this little subculture that thinks it is more important than everyone else. That's not to say they are wrong, but it does strain credulity given everything else we've seen about people working together.
But at least within the community there is no dissent. So not one of these people were willing to see the Federation's side? Not one was willing to leave? Convenient.
Picard's handwringing was over the top as well. The Cardassians were right, what is there to negotiate about? There are three options: they leave willingly, you kidnap them forcefully, or you leave them to the mercy of the Cardassians. There was simply no other choices here. Again, this was all done much better with Ensigns of Command, in which there was no hesitation to show the stubborn colonists exactly what the problem was.
But fortunately, Picard happened to stumble across the one time the Cardassians were being reasonable and accommodating. Hooray!
I don't mean to be too negative. There were good ideas here and there, and a few good scenes. The first meeting of Lakanta and Wesley (when Lakanta asks him point blank what he thinks is sacred and Wesley admits he hasn't been treating anything, including himself, as sacred lately) was great. Picard's interactions with Evek were pretty good. The tension on the ground was believable. And I like the idea of Wesley's arc ending with him leaving Starfleet. The plot just didn't seem to have enough there to sustain it.
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 12, 2014, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
I've been enjoying reading through the blog and everyone's comments as I go through episode by episode. It makes it more enjoyable.
Sun, Feb 1, 2015, 4:24am (UTC -5)
American Indians… really? Where are their huge bingo parlor/tobacco shoppes that headline washed up country singers? Yes… I know… but that's where the American Indian society is at now. I'm supposed to believe they'll regress back to 1840 in the next 400 years… on a different planet after traveling at warp speed to get there? Ugh… couldn't get pass that to begin with and the episode then somehow gets even worse.
As others have said, the whole "these 100 (or so) humans will cause a horrible war" should have been dealt with from the beginning exactly as it was at the end. "So… yeah, Cardissian dudes… this planet is yours now. Nothing really on it but a couple of hundred people in huts your technology could build in one day before lunch break. They want to stay. They'll be no problem. Cool?"
And then… if this is the last of Wesley ... wow. What a flat out horrible way to destroy a perfectly competent character. Yes, I know he wasn't loved by most Trekkies, but I actually liked the thought of an awkward, outcast genius teenager (my only problem with the Wesley character until this episode was that they gave him the helm of the Star Fleet flag ship before he was even a cadet. That was a hard pill to swallow). But really… vision quests? Daddy says "don't follow me"? Oh… and by the way, I'm nearly God-like? Where the hell did THAT come from?!?!?!
Sorry… I've loved this series so far. SO much good stuff in ST:TNG (I was in Germany in the USAF when it originally aired, so never saw it before). But the writers of THIS horrible, horrible episode should never be trusted with anything canonical ever again.
Oh… and I see that Jammer has given some .5-1 star reviews earlier in this season. But I felt all of those had much more merit than this one.
Wed, Mar 11, 2015, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
I like Wesley finally bucking the expectation for him to be the perfect wonderboy pet, but these Indians made me too angry to enjoy the episode.
Thu, Apr 2, 2015, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 21, 2015, 10:02am (UTC -5)
I don't have a huge of a problem with the concept of "space Indians," and I understand why they were made into generic Native Americans rather than a specific tribe. Naming a particular tribe might have offended members of that tribe -- although they come awfully close to that with the discussion of the Pueblo Uprising and an ancestral Picard's role as a Conquistador. (As an aside, Picard's family must be quite interesting...He is from a very small village in France, yet he is now revealed to have Spanish roots, and yet he speaks with a very pronounced British accent!)
While I liked the solution to the standoff, I have to question how the Indians will fare under the Cardassians. I had assumed that the Cardassians are so warlike they make Klingons peaceful enough by comparison to go into alliance with the Federation. How are we to assume the Cardassians won't just phaser blast every last colonist from orbit the moment the paperwork is signed giving them jurisdiction over this planet? You would think that issue would at least be discussed before Anthwara made the decision. Instead, the Cardassian captain says, "While I can't speak for every individual Cardassian you might encounter, as a government, we tend to be inclined to leave you alone as long as you leave us alone." REALLY? That sounds pretty damn good to me. A model of government, actually. If this is true, then I'm surprised the Cardassians and the Federation even had a war in the first place.
I also had an issue with the tribe's shaman being revealed to the Traveler. It would have made more sense to me if they remained separate characters who were shown to be in cahoots or something.
I agree with others here that Wesley's initial surliness was handled very poorly. It just seems completely out of character for him, depressed or not. It was as if the writer of this episode was unfamiliar with the character and given just a brief overview. Similarly, I found it unbelievable that Geordi would react to Wesley's behavior by blabbing about it to the rest of the crew. If a long-time friend of mine started acting like that out of nowhere, I'd give him time to cool down and then approach him one-on-one to ask if something is bothering him. I find it hard to believe Geordi would handle it as immaturely as he did.
This is not to say the episode was all bad. I liked the scenes between Beverly and Wesley, perfunctory or not. I also liked the dressing down from Picard. My main quibble was the revelation that Wesley has something like Q-like powers. Where did that come from? Yes, the Traveler has been saying he's another Mozart. That has us expecting him to make some genius breakthroughs in warp field science or somesuch -- not be able to stop time or travel to alternate dimensions on a whim. It almost makes me wonder if the last part of the episode was really happening or just imagined by Wesley as he continues to inhale the psychedelic smoke as part of the vision quest ceremony.
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Others have mentioned this, but I'll mention it again: Why not use an American Indian analog? The beauty of sci-fi is that you tackle an issue without addressing it directly. (Also since the traveler was the one Indian Wesley interacted with all of them were background noise anyway) I suspect that the tie in is to the famous statue of the "End of the Trail" commemorating the trail of tears and the episode's title (for Wesley's send off)
Possibly the one lesson I did like is the edict for Wesley to take his own path. Some people do end up being unhappy for trying to be what others want them to be OK so that part worked a little bit I give it 2 stars.
Sat, Oct 31, 2015, 2:39am (UTC -5)
This is an episode with a lot going for it.
1.) I love the fact that they show such respect to the Native culture. Yes, it's an invented tribe and isn't really based on anything real in any actual Native culture, but just put this up against some of the stupid, PC, Hollywood-Native bullshit they have Chakotay get up to over on VOY. This is downright honorary in comparison. And yes, it does lead to some rather noticeable nitpicks - how is that Troi, of all people, knows about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and how is it that Picard's direct male ancestor (who I can only assume was French) was serving in the Spanish army? But still, everyone's hearts were obviously in the right place.
2.) The treatment of the Native religious life. I was particularly struck my this exchange - "ANTHWARA: When I came here twenty years ago, I was welcomed by the mountains, the rivers, the sky. WAKASA: Anthwara, he's laughing at you. He thinks you're talking about old superstition and nonsense. PICARD: This is not true. I have the deepest deal of respect for your beliefs and the meaning that they hold for your people." Given that Picard later tells Riker that he absolutely does not believe in this religion (and may, in fact, actually think of it as superstition and nonsense, it's okay as far as he's concerned for other people to have a different viewpoint. It's a small point, something the episode doesn't really draw attention to, but my-oh-my how far we've come since "Who Watches the Watchers?". Now, if we could just get some practicing Christians, Jews, Hindus or the like on Trek, we'd be good to go. :-)
3.) This is a great moral conundrum with a lot of really meaty philosophical/moral/emotional issues for us to sink our teeth into. Leaving aside "The Pegasus", we haven't had an episode like this since "Rightful Heir" in Season Six. And as for where I stand - I'm firmly with the colonists on this one. In fact, the more I watch these Maquis episodes, the more I find myself siding with them against the Federation. What the Federation attempts to do here is absolutely wrong and I love the fact that Picard, while still willing to do his duty, is clearly shaken by his actions and desperate to find a third alternative. Forced relocation is wrong and not just because these are Native Americans we're talking about - it would be wrong for anybody. Oh, but the Natives had an Indian representative present at the Federation Council whose opinions were heard and discussed? So what? That's like a lamb and two wolves voting on what is for dinner and then saying the lamb has no right to object to being eaten when he gets outvoted. If they want to stay and take their chances with the Cardassians, what's the problem? Why wasn't that the first option available? The Federation sure gets awfully close to some disturbing Big Brother territory here. Just let them secede if they want to. Thankfully, that's exactly the "compromise" Picard, Evek and Anthwara come to in the end. Hmm, a story where secession from the utopian Federation is presented as a win-win scenario - I'm liking this episode more and more.
4.) World-building. This is world-building of the first order. What we have here, at the episode's bare bones, is the story of the birth of the Maquis. It's the opening shot of an arc that will cover at least five different episodes spread over two separate series all of which are build-up for a third series. I don't know what else to say except that this is phenomenal, especially by Trek standards. It's ultimately sad that VOY would piss away the Maquis plotline after TNG and DS9 so wonderfully set it up for them - especially when you consider that DS9 would end up giving the Maquis the most development they got when the DS9 showrunners initially wanted nothing to do with it.
Sadly, however, there is one major drawback to "Journey's End" and it goes by the name of Wesley Crusher. What is Wesley's basic story here? That he's depressed/burned-out from the Academy and really doesn't feel at home in Starfleet anymore as a result. This really doesn't gel all that well with the world-building story of political/military manipulation and moral ambiguity. It feels so woefully out of place. It also doesn't help that Wesley's whole character story is dependent on him acting like an ass at first, when he really doesn't. Take, for example, the scene in Engineering when Wesley is completely unimpressed with LaForge's new design for.... whatever it was. The episode goes out of its way to paint Wesley's actions here as simply beyond the pale. Both Crusher and Picard refer to it as "the incident in Engineering". LaForge, in the moment, acts like he's completely disgusted with Wesley - "how dare he act this way!". What exactly did Wesley do that was so horrible? (Yes, I'm defending Wesley Crusher, that's how little sense this story makes.) He wasn't an ass. He didn't demean LaForge or outright ridicule him. He just acted a little uninterested at first and then somewhat flippant about LaForge's designs. And we're expected to agree with everyone that this is completely unacceptable? Um, no.
Then there's the way this sub-plot ends. So, apparently Wesley isn't just so amazingly awesome that he's a Mozart-level genius, he's also (for all intents and purposes) a demi-god. SMH! Wesley isn't this awesome, he isn't even all that likable; STOP IT! I'm not even opposed to the idea of making someone a demi-god on Trek - I thought Sisko's transformation into one in the final seasons of DS9 was very well handled. But with Wesley.... no, just no. But, at least they didn't have him save the day again; so that's something, I guess.
But, you know, I can see a way Wesley's resignation from the Academy and going off with the Traveler could work. Let me lay out an alternative idea, see what people think.... After the events of "The First Duty", Wesley begins to blame himself for the death of his friend. He blames himself for going along with the stunt so much that he begins to internalize feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. It gets so bad that he then begins projecting those feelings outward onto others (i.e. a bad attitude) and onto Starfleet itself. He thinks "Starfleet must really be awful if it would allow people like us, people like me, a second chance after what we did." When he comes onto the Enterprise in this episode, he has nurtured these feelings for almost two years so he has started to have major problems at the Academy (his grades are slipping, he's becoming more and more withdrawn and isolated, he's in danger of being academically dismissed, etc.). Then, while on vacation among his old friends, he sees what Starfleet is asking them to do to this group of colonists who just want to mind their own business - they want to forcibly remove them from their homes all for a morally and tactically questionable treaty with the Cardassians. It's literally the straw that breaks the camel's back for Wesley. He decides "I can't be involved with an organization that would do something this outrageous" and so resigns from the Academy. That gives Picard a real kick in the gut and wakes him up from what the Federation Council and the admiral are making him do. He then does anything it takes to come to some kind of agreement with Evek and the colonists - something that all sides can live with. But Wesley has made his decision and won't return to Starfleet, saying that it wasn't just this incident but that it had been a long time coming. The Traveler than shows up (yes, I still have the problem of the Traveler basically appearing out of nowhere, just like in the actual episode but, hey, work with me a little here :-)) and offers Wesley his guidance to finding a new life for himself, one that would truly allow him to explore his genius abilities. Everyone accepts that this is what Wesley truly wants and life goes on. The Wesley sub-plot therefore lays the groundwork further for the Maquis - showing that even people the audience can (possibly) sympathize with can take the opposing side.
In the end, "Journey's End", while it has it's problems is still a damn fine piece. Just ignore most of the Wesley bits.
Sat, Nov 7, 2015, 6:36am (UTC -5)
The rest of the story is unfortunately just deadly dull. The Native American depiction is about as hokey as it's possible to get, the Cardassians too are based in cliche, and the set up is contrived. There is a little more gravity at the conclusion, where at least Gul Evek shows some flexibility and there is groundwork laid for the future. But overall, a strangely uninvolving farewell. 2 stars.
Wed, Dec 30, 2015, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 31, 2015, 10:16am (UTC -5)
Compare this episode to S6's "True Q" where Amanda Rogers finds she's an omnipotent Q. She doesn't just leave the ship stuck in it's mission. She has even less at stake than Wesley, and she still finds the time to help the Enterprise. Bravo Amanda, you would've made a better series regular than Wesley.
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 2:01am (UTC -5)
If I was an exceptional human, I'd be even more annoyed. What does a human have to do to get credit.
Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 2:48am (UTC -5)
Only the US still refers to their indigenous people as "Indians". In Mexico they're referred to by their tribe, and in Canada they're called First Nations. Even colloquially when the episode aired they were called "native". To think that they'd still be referred to by Columbus' erroneous nomenclature translated into English in the future in which Star Trek is set is the writers extension of American hubris. It dates the episode.
Sun, Jul 10, 2016, 2:09am (UTC -5)
Main plot:Admiral Russian lady tells Picard that do to the peace treaty between Cardassia they need to remove a colony of native Americans(called Indians here) for some reason even though there was a Eugenics war and Nuclear holocaust there are still full tribes of native Americans who never just joined mainstream society. They meet the tribal council and the guy says Picard is uneasy and tells him he shares the same last name as a conquistador who helped smash the Pueblo revolt of 1680 700 years ago! christ that guy was grasping at straws. How the hell did he know the name of the spanish soldiers who put down the rebellion? during the chaos of ww3 and searching space for a new home you still remembered the name of 1 soldier from 1680? of course voyager reveals that native Americans have magic connections with the land so maybe the land told him.Well sadly Picard believes the guy and is now worried that he is imitating his supposed ancestor. we here a lecture on why it was wrong to move native Americans from their land(I guess in the 80's it was necessary?)The Cardassians show up asking why they haven't evacuated the colony Gul Evek has some nice scenes with Picard but the point is clear There going to settle the planet regardless of whether or not the Pueblo's are still there.
Worf being a competent security officer organized a team to move the colonist but is stopped by Wesley who then stirs up the colonist who begin arming themselves. On the ship Picard chews out Wesley for being reckless and stupid but the episode is clearly on Wesley's side. 2 Cardassians have been captured and Gul Evek is going to dispatch some troops to get them back, Wesley tries to stop them a fight starts a Cardassian is shot and the rest are going to kick some Colonist ass. but before that can happen time freezes and Wesley learns that he's evolved past normal humans,If Wesley is really mankind's next step in evolution why didn't Q ever take a special interest in him. Unless Q is the traveler hmm. Gul Evek decides to delay that asswhoopin and recalls his men to his ship. The Pueblo decide to renounce there Federation citizenship and stay on the planet in Cardassian space. well I hope the planet has no natural resources the Cardassian Union could use otherwise they've condemned themselves and their children to a life of slave labor.
Apparently this is one of the TNG episodes that shows the start of the Maquis a group of Rebels made for Voyager but better used in DS9. The native american plot is very dumb and its obvious what the episode is trying to do. it would have been more subtle to just have a mixed colony of Humans who have lived there for centuries like in "Ensigns of command" Picard feeling guilty for the actions of a possibly non existent ancestor is very embarrassing. If I learned that there was an Orozco who murdered a bunch of people on a different continent 200 years ago I wouldn't care unless you can show me absolute proof I'm related to him. even then I wouldn't feel guilty because my family is nothing like that guy since its been several generations.
1.5 Stars for Wesley being annoying for pretty much the whole episode "first duty" would have been a great sendoff for young crusher but they decided to wrap up the Travelers story. Picard and his contrived guilt doesn't help.
Sun, Jul 10, 2016, 2:18am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 3, 2016, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
I'm fortunate that I missed this episode the first time around. It reminds me of Voyager and its Indian spiritual preachy mumbo jumbo in every Chakotay episode. At least the captain didn't whisper at the end.
Thu, Dec 1, 2016, 12:06am (UTC -5)
Look, you could say Federation basically sold out their home but this isn't like what was done to Native Americans in US. They aren't kicking them out for their land, they are doing it for their safety. Cardassians are also known as "those guys who turned Bajor into Nazi Germany Planet for sixty-years". Yes, they are in this situation because of Federation's own decisions, but they did it to prevent a war (with admittedly, morally repugnant regime) and given that there is only enough of them to be evacuated by Enterprise, it's really not that awful a thing the episode paints it as.
Not even Wesley gives two shits about them, given that he's fine with leaving the situation to sort itself out, even though he's the one that made it escalate as it did.
Also, check out the Villain Ball on that Gul. "I don't want my son to die. So let's risk his life by sending a rescue party for no reason except they might kill few of those asshole."
Fri, Feb 10, 2017, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
LOL at all the comments moaning about the colonists being selfish and relating it to Insurrection. If you live and own the land, then who is someone else to take it away from you regardless of the Greater Good..... in short.....
"How many people does it take Admiral, before it becomes wrong?"
Anyway for this?....... 2.5 stars
Sat, Jun 17, 2017, 2:48am (UTC -5)
Wait, didn't Picard say these people were nomadic? They have buildings and stuff. So, not nomadic.
This was a pretty poor ending to Wes' story. We knew he was going to join the Traveler and "ascend to a higher plane" or whatever, but he acts so out of character throughout this, and the Traveler only shows up near the end. It's like his story was shoehorned into a completely unrelated plot.
It seems really weird how they call Native Americans "Indians". Locally yes they are still called that even today but Picard as a Briti- er, Frenchman should at least be calling them Native Americans or by their tribe(s). It seems preposterous that they'd be referred to that way on another planet in the future, they're not from India! (It would be only a little less weird to call them "Native Americans" on a planet so far removed from Earth but at least it'd be more accurate.)
Sat, Jun 17, 2017, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
I'll probably catch some flak for this, but I have said American Indians since the 80's, especially after I found out they were named for the folks in India, which is where that very, very lost explorer thought he was...
I was actually quite progressive at the time.
I seldom say Native Americans because, heh, if we go back far enough, maybe there was another civilization before them that crashed and disappeared into dust, and they were the natives. Really, after a few billion years, it could have happened. Heck, go back just a few hundred million years, and dinosaurs ruled that area I believe.
Why don't folks get mad at the North American state of Indiana? Indian(a). No one ever, Ever, ever sees that? Are we hiding it under a rug somewhere?
Of course, it might be a very nice rug...
Just some musings... and no offense meant to anyone, and I mean ANYONE!
Tue, Aug 1, 2017, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 2, 2017, 2:37am (UTC -5)
I mean its like if you go to spain and then think all you see is heretic burning and revolutionaries fighting a fascist regime. No nuance at all.
Sun, Sep 24, 2017, 11:29pm (UTC -5)
Despite the attempt to allegorize about Native American rights, this show ends in a bizarre twist revealing that it's really about How Special Wesley Is After All, reducing the political and moral issues to a personal self-affirmation story. Ron Moore seems to be caught between TNG and DS9 tonally in this one and it's all over the map; this is definitely one of his laziest and weakest writing efforts. It makes no sense that the Traveler is here other than as part of the overall weird effort of Season 7 to give closure to a few characters without actually feeling like the series is ending.
The problem with TNG, to be honest, is that it's not very good: It went on for about two or three seasons too long. It's colossally boring, bland, and self-righteous, and oddly feels more dated today in 2017 than the retro-hip and napalm-brilliant TOS. Don't get me wrong, there are some brilliant moments in TNG as well, and I have a childhood love for the show, but the ratio of good-to-crap is much worse than the more tightly wound three seasons of TOS or the carefully planned story arcs of DS9. Because TNG didn't really settle into an arc or a focus, it remained episodic while draining the creative well dry, going on for season after season without really showing us anything new other than godawful stuff like "Sub-Rosa" and "Genesis."
Back in the early 1990s, I watched TNG as a kid because it was the only quality thing on TV, but even then I found much of it boring and stopped watching every week after Season 5. As the cast grew more comfortble in their roles, they also grew more complacent, indulging their egos in endless character episodes that repeated old beats without adding anything new (each season had "The Klingon Family Episode,") and often repeating themselves (the near-weekly "Diplomatic Crisis Episode") in scripts that felt increasingly recycled or else lifted from a pile of dog poo rejected in earlier seasons. Yet TNG became a hit through syndication and threatened to go on endlessly for decades without purpose for one reason: It had no real competition. So even though it ran out of ideas, it kept going because the going was good. Looking back on it today, in an age where television has come to equal the quality of most theatrically released movies, it doesn't hold up as well in marathons as TOS or DS9. And if you think I'm being unfair, ask yourself this: If you were on a desert island, which episodes would you take from each season? If you're like me, there may be less than half the roughly 25 episodes in some of these later seasons you'd want to watch more than once -- maybe even less than a quarter of them, or less than 5 out of 25 -- and that's a pretty low ratio compared to TOS and DS9.
Incidentally, if you've ever been to an Indian Reservation, you'll know that people there call themselves "Indians" rather than "Native Americans" -- the latter is a term that we in the rest of America have imposed on them.
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 2:15am (UTC -5)
I just hated this episode. All that Indian stuff was horrible as well; it reminded me of some really bad MacGyver episodes from the 80s...
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
Perfectly fine with Wes not wanting to be in StarFleet but why he has to piss of Geordi and his mom is poorly conceived in the writing. So meeting the Traveler and him having some special powers is the end result -- it's just not compelling.
The relocation plot plays out predictably -- I can't believe Picard would have any guilt about a Spanish ancestor relocating natives from New Mexico some 700 years ago. I started to wonder if these natives were supposed to be ones from TOS's "The Paradise Syndrome". Some wooden acting from the younger adult Indian when he attempts to voice his resistance.
2 stars for "Journey's End" - so Wesley's story arc has been wrapped up albeit clunkily and the natives relocation subplot was just dull and predictable. At least there was a little Picard/Cardassian interaction, which was probably the best part of the episode.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
The Wesley part wasn’t too bad, and nice to see some story closure.
It’s comical that the Traveller tells Wesley to have faith the humans/Cardassians can solve their problems on their own. Wesley’s response should have been “you know how many times I’ve saved their a$$?”
Sun, Dec 2, 2018, 2:33am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 2, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
So now Wesley can stop time with his mind...and where does he beam to at the end of the show--another plane of existence?
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
1. If Your ancestor did something bad 700 years ago, You are still to be blamed.
2. If it's inconvenient for You to move to another home it's ok to put at risk a peace treaty and risk a new conflict and maybe a new war costing millions of people their lives. You have the moral high ground as long as mountains talk to you.
3. Being a dick to people and getting high on campfire smoke is vital step of human evolution.
Sat, May 18, 2019, 9:06am (UTC -5)
Nice tie in to the Cardassian Federation land swap and rise of the Maquis, no?
Of course the solution on the planet seems well and good but then why did the Cardassians insist on that planet? or are they going to use all of it but the village?
Wed, Jun 19, 2019, 3:52am (UTC -5)
TNG didn’t have a lot of things to revisit before it ended but Wesley returning was one of them.
I liked the way his arc wrapped up and I found the characterization believable and true to life with regards to his overachieving then burnout
I also liked seeing Native Americans brought into the 24th century and a little bit about them and how they exist in a future setting. It felt very fresh and interesting. Plus it set up the fact that we knew that year that the first officer on the next series Voyager would be Native American
Another thing the episode had going for it was the feel of interactivity between TNG and DS9 in settong up things for VOY.
Overall a good interesting episode
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 11:37pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 27, 2019, 5:52am (UTC -5)
Sun, May 3, 2020, 9:18am (UTC -5)
The failure is even more pronounced as this episode in contrast to its predecessor, Genesis, features an interesting premise. Is it justifiable to expel these people from their home for the greater good? Unfortunately this gets never examined in any serious way. Instead there is some mumbo-jumbo about Picard's ancestor (Hint: 27 generations makes for ~130 Billions ancestors, many of them duplicate entries of course, but nevertheless basically every white person in America at that point is probably an ancestor to Picard as well as in all likelihood quite a few of the Indians) and a really convenient way out, that conveniently never has to confront the dilemma.
Is it even plausible, though, that an entity as morally evolved as the federation would force evacuation on a whole civilization? We have seen plenty of similar examples in human history and usually these didn't go all too well.
Also is it plausible that anybody would put themselves voluntarily under Cardassian rule just a few years after the occupation of Bajor ended? Even this 'if you leave us alone we Cardassians will leave you alone as well' is completely incoherent with the way Cardassians are displayed in DS9.
All the religious stuff is incoherent with Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek as has been already pointed out.
How does Wes fit in? Firstly, sure he can be disappointed with the Academy and maybe even be glum and depressed about it, but the way he lashes out at his old friends goes exactly nowhere. Real people could be like that, but if you do this in a script it should be set up something, but here it doesn't. Then why is this episode used as a backdrop for him finding his destiny? The problem is --even disregarding Roddenberry's views on religion-- there is no reason why Wes should have his epiphany here. The episode insinuates that he somehow connects to the ancient wisdom of the Indians, but in fact here never interacts with them, the only person he talks to is the Traveller (mostly in disguise).
On top of all of this there is Gates McFadden's performance. I'm not a huge fan of the Crusher character anyway, but in this episode McFadden plays so clumsily in the few scenes she has, that it makes you cringe.
To sum it up, after the intro I had high expectations for the episode, but there was no coherence within the episode and even worse a few things that I found incoherent with Star Trek canon overall.
Mon, Sep 7, 2020, 8:31am (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
My big letdown here is Wesley's trite "thanks for everything" to Picard. Yeah, 47 minutes and all that jazz, but they could have carved out another 30 seconds for someone who is capable of evolving to really thank the one man mostly responsible for his opportunity to do that, and who essentially his surrogate father. THat was the weakest part.
Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
My big letdown here is Wesley's trite "thanks for everything" to Picard. Yeah, 47 minutes and all that jazz, but they could have carved out another 30 seconds for someone who is capable of evolving to really thank the one man mostly responsible for his opportunity to do that, and who essentially his surrogate father. THat was the weakest part.
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 30, 2020, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
The idea of a pre-industrial-with-phasers native American outpost in space seems odd. So is the notion that the Federation would sell them out so easily, although I liked the ultimate solution.
But most of all this preposterous notion of Wesley being able to supernaturally pull himself out of time. What? And his mum happily waves him off to visit "other planes of existence" at the end as if he was going off on a holiday to the seaside with his mates.
And actually the whole notion of galactic powers like the Cardassians and the Federation carving out pieces of the galaxy between them as their own territory is questionable, when you think that there are species out there with god-like powers. I'd love to see what would happen if a Cardassian commander annoyed Q.
No, I didn't like it.
Sat, Jan 2, 2021, 10:21am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 2, 2021, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 23, 2021, 4:44am (UTC -5)
Thank God, Wesley's out of Starfleet's clutches at last. I could never imagine him turning into a Picard, he's not sufficiently duplicitous for the Federation's dubious diplomacy. Wesley isn't only super intelligent IQ wise, he has oodles of emotional intelligence, which enables him not only to see the truth, in this case how morally wrong removing these people from their home is, but to call it out loud and clear.
The Indian culture and its spiritual dimension are treated with respect and without the condescension usually reserve by TNG for small races in the way of the Federation's military ambitions.
Hell, this lot CAN deliver a descent episode when they put their collective minds to it.
The Indian old man is superb, his calm and wisdom are so moving; Wheaton plays Wesley pitch perfect here, without the cloying cuteness of earlier episodes; the spiritual Indian/Traveler aspect is sensitively handled, he gives Wesley the way out that his combined seniors (Dr Crusher and Picard) cannot give him; even Picard is not entirely loathsome here, coming across as humble and genuinely concerned for the villagers.
And the Cardassians are just superb: two sons lost in the war, who wants to lose their last one? Echoes here of the Cardassian at the end of Lowe Decks. I adore the Cardassians, they're the most complex characters in the whole ST universe. No wonder DS9 is so beloved by true ST and SciFi afficionados. They have done the Cardassians true dramatic and narrative service.
And we have the foreshadowing of the background to the Maquis. Nice tie in with other ST iterations, but another aspect of the ST universe never truly developed anywhere.
Just loved the pace and dignity and maturity of this episode.
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Archide summed things up very well, imo:
1. If Your ancestor did something bad 700 years ago, You are still to be blamed.
2. If it's inconvenient for You to move to another home it's ok to put at risk a peace treaty and risk a new conflict and maybe a new war costing millions of people their lives. You have the moral high ground as long as mountains talk to you.
3. Being a dick to people and getting high on campfire smoke is vital step of human evolution.
Wheaton's acting has somehow grown worse. Wes was always a dork, but they decided to turn him into an unlikable douche for his big sendoff episode.
As bad as those things are the dumbest part is Picard's guilt trip plotline. Exactly what is the statute of limitations for committing the sin of having an evil ancestor?
Fri, Mar 19, 2021, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
Typical of Season 7, which just made idiotic decisions with the cast.
Tue, Nov 2, 2021, 8:58am (UTC -5)
I'm almost near this journey's end. Just 5 more episodes to go...
Wed, Dec 1, 2021, 3:02am (UTC -5)
For an episode that is light on action and heavy on talking, this nevertheless feels mature and in keeping with the philosophy behind all of TNG. Having Native Americans who are all wise and peaceful and in touch with nature, is perhaps a little bit of a cliche, and one that prefigures Chakotay on Voyager. However, a story centred around them is a welcome change after a host of alien races who only differ from humans by a few wrinkles on their forehead and nose.
Wesley bows out in style and becomes The Boy Wonder we always dreaded he might be. Farewell, Many Chins, and perhaps we may see you again if The Traveller and Sheldon Cooper allow it.
For being a grownup episode with absolutely no babble of any kind, this deserves 3 stars, perhaps even 3.5
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
In this context, it’s interesting to note that as I write this, there is a man in Virginia in his nineties who is the grandson of the tenth U.S. president, John Tyler, who served from 1841 to 1845 and was born in 1790. Imagine being able to say in 2022, "When my grandfather was born, George Washington was president."
Sun, Jul 3, 2022, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
1st off, Picard isn't taking part in a massacre. He's taking part in a relocation that has become necessary due to the current political situation. Second off, the Indians are invoking generational guilt on Picard, a concept that should be considered unacceptable by Federation values as it is blatantly racist; your ancestors are guilty, therefore you are as well. Sounds like present day Critical Race Theory.
Also, the whole issue of relocation is only a conflict because the people are Indians. Had they been any other race, this episode's conflict vanishes like smoke.
Mon, Jul 4, 2022, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
So, so, so much nonsense here... Mercifully, others have trod through the cesspool that is this episode so I don't have to. "Space Indians" and "Many Chins"... - you guys are hilarious! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
I have to make a perhaps tangential remark here, regarding American Indians/Native Americans. The trope, so beloved of Leftists, about Indians being all-loving, all-peaceful, in harmony with each other and with nature, who were sitting around campfires and giving each other foot rubs until the Evil White Man™ came along is stupendously ignorant. Indians were doing racism, slavery, human sacrifices, mass rape, and genocide on an industrial scale since before Europeans learned how to hew wood, let alone built the Mayflower. Give. Me. A. Break. Now, I'm not trying to do a tu quoque thing here, before anyone jumps down my throat, but merely providing some context. Few things are ever purely black and white.
Also, it's curious how Star Trek never shows an orthodox Jew, evangelical Christian, practicing Moslem, or even a Hindu sporting a bindhi or a Sikh in a turban--presumably because the "enlightened" humanity of the twenty-whatever-th century had dispensed with such antiquated superstition, yet, Indians with their buffalo spirits and dream-catchers and "vision quests" are portrayed as wise, culturally valuable, and deference-worthy, no matter how ludicrous or dangerous to, literally, the galaxy kowtowing to them may be.
Actually, for what they did to Wesley--whom I, unlike many, quite liked--ZERO stars. In fact, MINUS 1 star; give it to Genesis.
Tue, Jul 5, 2022, 7:08am (UTC -5)
Don't worry. Leftists know history books. I guess there is some part of the left that tends to idealize naturalistic cultures, though the same is true for parts of the right. I disagree that Native Americans committed genocide on an industrial scale before Europeans knew hewing. Europeans use that technique at least since antiquity.
I agree that it is a bad choice to include some form of native american religion. If religion is gone, then it should all be gone. It is also very cliched to portray Native Americans this way. Maybe including this is one of those early signs that Roddenberry's guidelines what the show was supposed to be were becoming less important.
Tue, Jul 5, 2022, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
That's the Fox News misrepresentation of CRT, not what it actually is.
Tue, Jul 5, 2022, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
I don't watch Fox News and never have. I reached that conclusion on my own because any honest analysis of CRT shows that it teaches collective guilt.
Wed, Jul 6, 2022, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
The basic premise is that that racism is not just demonstrated by individual people with prejudices, but that racial inequality is systemically woven into legal systems and negatively affects people of color in their schools, doctors’ offices, the criminal justice system and countless other parts of life. I don't see how acknowledging that is teaching collective guilt, and even if it is, that doesn't mean it's not warranted.
When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.
Tue, Aug 30, 2022, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
This whole episode seems very unlike the Federation. They had one representative, ONE, from the native people's world vs. the Federation Council + Cardassians + Starfleet. Yeah, seems real equitable to me.
Wesley's transcendence into another plane of existence or whatever also doesn't add up. It is kept too vague.
Tue, Aug 30, 2022, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 10, 2022, 5:53am (UTC -5)
Thank-you for saying, "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."
As much as I hate this episode (which is a lot), my reaction to the episode itself pales by contrast with my reaction to the number of comments on this page that have brazenly advocated, over the course of years, the entitlement mentality that tries to justify taking literally EVERYTHING from a group of people because there are fewer of them than of the people who want to take it, and then dared to call the small group "selfish" for objecting. That's the kind of thing that tends to be said by people who assume they themselves will always be in the big group that gets to gerrymander everyone else into a bunch of groups individually small enough to be outvoted, one small group at a time.
For those using the Vulcan "needs of the many" slogan to try to make that basic imperialism sound quintessentially Trekkian, please, recall that the slogan was only brought up in Trek in order to subvert it into "The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many."
Mon, Oct 10, 2022, 9:39am (UTC -5)
I too don't care for this one, but It's interesting that this episode presents the idea that no matter how inclusive, great, or grand The Federation is, there were still have and have-nots on Earth and these have-nots didn't feel represented in Federation culture. It's not clear what the Federation lacks, but The Maquis in DS9 presents the theory that the Federation detests dissenters. It's moreover implied The Federation values technology over nature preservation (your mileage may vary whether these qualms are true.)
It's my observation that one may liken the Federation to the British Empire. After all, the Brits were only interested in Free Trade, industrialization, and security. It's just that the means to reach those ends were somewhat appalling at times by our standards. To that end, The Federation represents a Super-Empire, free from the tyranny of the old Earth empires with more of an emphasis on social justice. But this episode implies that there were imperfections in even that conception and perhaps the Federation itself had room to improve.
Mon, Oct 10, 2022, 10:48am (UTC -5)
"For those using the Vulcan "needs of the many" slogan to try to make that basic imperialism sound quintessentially Trekkian, please, recall that the slogan was only brought up in Trek in order to subvert it into "The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many.""
It also seems to me that the many outweighing the one is meant to be a Vulcan bit of logic, whereas it's Kirk who comes back with the one outweighing the many, which is a human version, illogical in a sense, but elevating the importance of each person beyond what a 'statistical calculus' would suggest. We are each worth more than our mere fraction of the race that we represent. So yes, the motto serving to explain why Spock needed saving is, I think, the one we're supposed to take away as the grand and controversial message. Also, when Spock suggests the needs of the many outweigh his life, that's a personal choice, rather than a mandate from top-down authority instructing individuals that because they're small they don't matter.
Mon, Oct 10, 2022, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
You are far more kind to the British Empire than I am. What the Empire was ultimately interested in was funneling the world's resources to Britain. The fact that they convinced themselves that they were doing the conquered peoples a favor by bringing them security and "free" trade does indicate that they sincerely wanted to believe they were doing something better than plundering weaker societies by force, but it doesn't mean that they were actually in the right. (By the way, I also apply this to my own country, the United States, when our own government has pushed a narrative that we were "helping" less militarily or economically powerful countries whose people didn't invite us there in the first place, and where we would not be if our government didn't think it would serve our interests.)
There are times when balances have to be struck among competing needs, but the bigger and/or stronger group needs to be aware of how seductive self-serving narratives that prioritize themselves over smaller and/or weaker groups can be. The smaller, weaker groups are already well aware of this, but often can do little about it against a stronger group with an ill-formed conscience.
Mon, Oct 10, 2022, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Indeed, I have often observed that some of the people who find it easiest to buy into a narrative that justifies their own group's privilege over a less powerful group can be the same people who most vociferously defend their individual right to non-interference by others, including the government. A lone individual is the ultimate "small group," as small as you can get and still exist. All of a sudden, "the needs of the many" somehow doesn't apply.
As I said in my above response to Chrome, there are times when societies must strike a balance among competing needs, but if those balances are to be equitable, then there has to be an acknowledgment of the temptation that a "might makes right" system will always hold for the mighty.
Tue, Oct 11, 2022, 11:50am (UTC -5)
There's a concept known as the Veil of Ignorance, or Original Position, which is a thought experiment for reasoning about the principles that should structure a society. Basically, what morals, ethics, rules, laws, and social norms would you want to see in a society, the one catch being you don't know what position you might hold in that society. Your ethnicity, social status, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, religion, and tastes are all unknown. Is the potential to be a wealthy plantation owner worth it if you could just as well end up a slave? Set up a Christian nation, but what if you turn out to be Hindu, Jewish, atheist, or the "wrong" kind of Christian? Maybe don't make your society one where being in those "out" groups is such a bad thing. Would you really want to risk being raped/tortured/enslaved/killed just to bump the dominant group's well-being from good to a little more good? I think that's the better way to analyze these situations.
Tue, Oct 11, 2022, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 12, 2022, 1:23am (UTC -5)
The question isn't really "Would you be willing to take the CHANCE that you MIGHT be the (fill in less fortunate group identifier)?" It's "Would you be willing to BE the (fill in said identifier) within that system?"
Wed, Oct 12, 2022, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
I agree that's a better way to frame it.
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 10:15am (UTC -5)
But somehow during my latest viewing, a lot of the things that intrigued me before fell flat this time around. A lot of the comments echo my sentiments, so I will just say that the entire reasoning and philosophy behind the settlers motives really made me not care about the stakes. These people had been given fair warning before settling on the planet about the Cardassian threat, and chose to do so nonetheless; 20 years later, when that threat reared its ugly head, they demanded that their idea of the mountains and clouds and what not take primacy over difficult negotiations with a very militant and aggressive species. I am all for respecting someone's beliefs, but a line must be drawn somewhere and in this instance that isn't really hard to do. Comparing Picard's duty and what he was about to do to one of his random ancestors who supposedly pillaged and plundered native American lands is ridiculous to any non-partial party and it's ridiculous that Picard even entertained the idea of his situation being anything similar to that of his ancestor. In essence, not much sympathy for the settlers, so really not much investment on my part.
As for the B story, this is where TNG's stubbornly episodic format takes its toll. The writers had ample opportunity to expand on the idea introduced by First Duty and explore Wesley's disillusionment with Starfleet which would give more weight to his behavior and choices here. Like this, his sudden change of heart doesn't really carry much meaning and seems like it was shoved in for its own sake, where once a permanent cast member's persona is dramatically changed during an episode's B plot.
In short, this episode was trying to go places and it certainly isn't all bad, but it never really managed to take off and deliver a pay-off it was gunning for.
Sat, Oct 22, 2022, 10:41am (UTC -5)
First of all, the idea that Indigenous people wanted to maintain an ethnic identity in the face of a hegemonic unified Earth identity is something that some people in the comments are characterizing as a negative. But the thing is, wanting to preserve your cultural identity when you've faced centuries of forced assimilation is not some foolhardy nationalism. For so many centuries, Native peoples have been told that they can survive if they only assimilate. This eventual assimilation has long been treated by colonial governments in the Americas as a tragic but inevitable consequence of "progress." But for centuries, Native people have been pushing back against this idea that a future of "progress" must regrettably leave them out.
It only takes a viewing of "The Paradise Syndrome" to show that Gene Roddenberry was not exactly "with it" when it came to modern Native American intellectual thought on this matter. The Voyager writers didn't do much better since they hired a charlatan as their Native consultant, one who was already outed as a fake in actual Native American circles in the 1990s. But we can say that at least they were *trying* to acknowledge that a progressive view of humanity's future wasn't one that continued to tell Native people "You will be assimilated. Your cultural and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile."
The other thing is, religion is fundamentally inextricable from Native American cultural identities. The compartmentalization of "religion" and "science" into totally separate and incompatible categories is not one that most Native American societies share. A great book on this topic for anyone interested in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, who talks about how as a Potawotami woman who is trained as an academic (and therefore implicitly Western) biologist, she sees the approaches of Western science and her own people's science/religion as complementary and compatible. Native American religions are not evangelistic and do not teach that they are the guardians of exclusive truth. To argue that the progressive vision of Star Trek should include Indians "getting over" their religious beliefs is just as insidious as arguing that they should have "gotten over" having their own culture that was distinct to the Western cultures that dominated the creation of the Federation (e.g. the United States, their colonial oppressor!).
So that being said, there are definitely a lot of problems with a) the episode itself and b) the fan reception to the episode. On the one hand, the episode does a lot better than some of the commenters here at acknowledging that erasing Indigenous identities is *not* a very progressive vision of the future of humanity. I particularly liked how the Traveller-fake-character said to Wesley that their culture may be rooted in the past but is not limited to the past, and that exposure to things like alien cultures was not seen as something to be hostile towards, but to incorporate into their existing understanding of the world.
However,, the whole "mystical Indian facilitates vision quest for white boy" thing is, as Polly said above, a classic stereotype which uses Indigenous people as props for the self-realization of a white person. We see the same problem on Voyager with Chakotay taking Janeway on a vision quest to meet her spirit animal. Yikes!
Another issue with this episode is that the Pueblo peoples are notoriously *very* private about their religious and cultural practices. Hell, the Hopi are so protective over their language that they don't even like Navajo kids learning it in school! The weird approximation of kachina dolls was particulary cringe-worthy in that respect. Of course, you could come up with an interesting in-universe reason as to why the Pueblo peoples had modified their opinions towards letting outsiders into private ritual spaces, but I'd much rather have that from an Indigenous futurist author than Ron D. Moore. The fact that the Indian who welcomed Wesley into this cultural tradition turned out to be a white-coded outsider masquerading as a Native shaman reallllly made the whole thing fall flat. (Plot twist... the Traveller is Voyager's "Native" consultant! The parallels are uncanny!)
All in all, this episode had a few good points in it that I think went over most of the commenters' heads. That doesn't stop it from being composed of some tiresome Native stereotypes, in addition to all the problems with the Maquis setup and Wesley's arc.
Sun, Oct 23, 2022, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Can you point to an instance where The Federation forces assimilation?
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 7, 2022, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Could you clarify what you meant by "Plot twist... the Traveller is Voyager's "Native" consultant!" (The actor who played the Traveler was not that person, but maybe I'm not following a more metaphorical reference.)
Sat, Mar 11, 2023, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome - I was referring to pre-Federation US history. The legal status of Native tribes in regards to the one world government has never been given much clarity. Other sci-fi does a better job at this. For example, I just read an original novel by Trek novelist Vonda McIntyre. In near-future Earth some Native nations gained independence from the US and Canada and the UN happens to be run by a representative of their nation. It's a side detail in the novel but one which deals with the issue better than Trek's vague handling of it. We are left with the impression that Native tribes either assimilated or developed a distrust of the Federation and rejected assimilation, like Chakotay's tribe, with no evidence of an in-between like characters from other cultural backgrounds get (e.g. Keiko's connections to Japanese culture or Picard's connection to French culture).
Sat, May 27, 2023, 10:22am (UTC -5)
I'd just stick within the confines of this episode and not try to guess what the writers thought was involved in actual formation of the Federation. Maybe human organizational evolution did involve Native Americans who were on board, maybe not. Perhaps we could agree that ideally it would!
To that end, the Choctaw Nation was a part of the Federation until the end of this episode when it became clear that devotion to their beliefs was inconsistent with Federation security. Yet, and I think this is a key philosophy of TNG, there's nothing that says the Chocktaw had to conform. They got their own planet. They could stay on the planet without Federation protection if they chose. That sounds remarkably progressive and forbearing to me. I couldn't wholly imagine the United States doing the same thing.
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